I was flipping through Jumpstart and this card certainly jumped out at me.
There is A LOT going on with this card and I love it all! Let's take a deep dive with Inniaz and see everything there is to offer!
To start with, you get a 4/4 flyer for five mana. I like 4 toughness on a creature just to keep it alive so that is always a good thing. I'm a little wary of the five-mana cost. I think more than 4 mana for a commander is admitting you are only ever going to cast it twice. If you are hoping your commander will be an integral part of your game plan, you will really have to be protecting it. My plan for this week is a 60-card casual deck, so five mana isn't nearly as concerning.
The first ability really sets the tone. Everyone looks at the card and begins to start counting your mana. With five mana to cast and three to activate, Inniaz will be a mana hog. If you are hoping to load your deck with birds, pegasi, sphinx, and other flying creatures to take advantage of this ability, your ability to tap for six or nine mana will be a thing. You'll do well to load your deck with ways to reduce the cost to activate the ability. A card like Training Grounds goes a long way to really making that deck hum. Having enough mana to give your flying creatures +2/+2 is mildly concerning. Having enough mana to give your flying creatures +6/+6 is game ending.
Another option is Voltron. With a way to reduce the pump cost, and some other cards that can make Inniaz a little more beefy, things could get out of hand for opponents. Inniaz already has evasion. Add in double strike or a way to give them infect and it could be a quick game over.
Have you noticed what we haven't talked about yet with the first ability? Perhaps because it is something that isn't on the ability that makes it particularly exciting to me: "you control." This pump works on anyone's attacking flyers. It doesn't have to be you smashing through an opponent's defenses, it could be someone else. Even with decks that aren't focused on flying creatures, most players have at least a few flyers in their decks. If you want to mess with combat, it will only cost you three mana! If you want to do a favor or up the politics in your game, this ability can make it happen.
The other part of this that I love is that your opponents don't know if you are keeping the mana open to mess with combat, play a counterspell, or you just don't have anything else in your hand to play out! This just makes me giddy!
And after offering all of that, we get to the truly juicy part of the card! When we attack with three or more creatures (don't worry about the "with flying" part because you are only really going to play creatures that fly) each player gains control of a nonland permanent of your choice controlled by the player on their right. So, you get to peruse all the cards of the opponent on your right and pick the juiciest one for you. Or you can choose the one that would be most painful for them to lose. Then you get to do the same thing all the way around the board! And when we get to losing one of our permanents, we give up the most benign thing we have. And to top it all off? The cards that move aren't targeted! Hexproof, shroud and protection offer your opponents no shelter here!
I love this for so many reasons. You can play it with the goal of eventually getting all the good stuff. Is there a card that you want that is two players away? Pass it along and you'll get a shot at it next combat! You can play it with the goal of being chaotic. Just choose the permanents at random and just mess with the board!
My personal favorite is to play it with the goal of being political. Your opponent really doesn't want to lose their Smothering Tithe. What are they willing to do to keep it? Will they promise not to attack you? Will they promise not to attack someone else? Perhaps you can choose to only really hurt one opponent as a way to gain friends around the table.
Some things to keep in mind with this ability. You don't have to send all three attackers at one player; they just have to attack. This allows you to further play the political game. You spread the damage around and didn't put up an all-out assault on a single player. Another thing to consider is that the cards get passed before blockers are declared. So, if you are swinging at an opponent with one creature that can block, you can choose to pass that blocker to another player, safely letting your attack come through unhindered. Also note that take an opponent's creature doesn't mean that it can attack that turn, since you have already declared your attackers. The best you are getting there is a blocker for later turns.
I want to stop here and make a strong suggestion for the cards you should go after. Trying to pass creatures around is a bit of a fool's game. Most players have decks that rely on their ability to sacrifice their own creatures, so players will sacrifice the creatures you choose to pass. Even decks that aren't running a ton of recursion tend to have some way to stop the loss of their creatures. The cards that you want are the mana rocks and ways to make mana. Inniaz is a huge mana suck. Stealing away a Sol Ring, Signet, or Felwar Stone gets you that much closer to your three attacking creatures each getting another +1/+1 for the attack. And you get to reuse these mana rocks turn after turn. It isn't particularly flashy (and there will be times when you must go for the flashy card), but you will be glad you did)
Something else to consider when shifting control of cards: the player on your right is not getting another turn until after everyone else on the board gets a turn. Taking away a card that is key to their defense will leave them vulnerable to everyone else for at least one round of the table. The person sitting on your left may also lose a card key to their defense, but you will be the only one who can take advantage of that before they get a turn to untap and try to rebuild their defenses. If you are looking to play the deck in a political way, you are likely looking for others to do much of your dirty work for you. This means the player on your right is a better target. Of course, Inniaz, the Gale Force can work wonders in a Pramikon deck, and that can just flip all of this around!
Finally, I was quick to say that the cards you give up could just be benign. While that is true, you can do so much more. Perhaps you want to help the person on the left so you pass them one of your flyers. What I want to do is steal a card from Zedruu's play book, or more appropriately, give a card from Zedruu's play book. Illusions of Grandeur and other cards of its ilk are perfect. You get a bonus playing the card, then when it comes time to make the payment, send it along to someone else. Some interesting options that have come out recently are Crown of Doom, Nine Lives, and Coveted Jewel. Nine Lives looks particularly fun. Swing with all of your creatures, then start building up incarnation counters on Nine Lives. As it is about to go off, pass it along to a neighbor. It is like having the kitty litter tray at your place, then dumping it at a friend's house when it is full! The joy is that it doesn't have to be the person on your left that gets stuck with it. You can pass it like a hot potato and see who is holding it when it goes off!
Here is a look at my rough, first pass at building with Inniaz, the Gale Force
The Force is Strong with This One | Casual | Bruce Richard
- Creatures (16)
- 1 Djinn of Infinite Deceits
- 1 Emeria Angel
- 1 Judge's Familiar
- 1 Thunderclap Wyvern
- 2 Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker
- 2 Jubilant Skybonder
- 2 Skycat Sovereign
- 3 Inniaz, the Gale Force
- 3 Watcher of the Spheres
- Artifacts (2)
- 2 Bident of Thassa
I included Homeward Path as another way to make things work in our favor. If you are passing around enchantments and artifacts from one player to another, then sending over one of your creatures, you can simply claim it back. If you want to go a little more political, and why wouldn't you, you can also pass an ally's creature to someone, then give it back to your opponent. I particularly like to save Homeward Path for those moments when an enemy is using their newfound creature in a way that you don't really like. Perhaps they are attacking you or someone you care about. Perhaps they are looking to destroy the gift you gave them. Perhaps they are thinking they will block with that creature. Homeward Path can do real work.
I also wanted to mention Djinn of Infinite Deceits. This follows the same theme as Inniaz. Swapping creatures can be a wonderful thing all on its own! For this deck, I am looking to swap flying creatures for creatures that don't fly, so I can fly at others unimpeded. It is a somewhat limited use of a card that has all the options that this card has, but I'm okay with that.
I hope you have enjoyed this deep dive with Inniaz, the Gale Force. I'm looking forward to the crazy, unique games Inniaz promises in the months to come!